Holidaymakers come to explore the Catalan uplands and experience the beauty of the landscape, drink in the pure air, enjoy the clear fresh water, but that alone does not quite suffice –
for the specialities of Catalan cuisine are also particularly appreciated, especially the mountain charcuterie and the aïolli, but then don’t forget:
Catalan cuisine is characterised by the great variety of products its uses, and this is what makes it unique. It typically uses contrasting sweet-and-savoury or sweet-sour flavours as well as certain special techniques.
a cabbage soup with rancid bacon. This was a typical peasant soup that people used to leave to cook for hours over a wood fire on the corner of the hearth in a large cauldron or olla.
Boles de Picolat
balls of minced meat, picolar meaning "to mince". It was the most commonly eaten dish in the Roussillon and characterised by the combination of garlic and cinnamon.
grilled or barbecued snails, served with a genuine aïoli and a robust rosé that people drank directly from the porro - a bottle with a very slender neck specially designed for drinking from.
All of these products are part of the exceptional regional cuisine.
Wild angelica (Coscoll)
Wild angelica is a member of the Umbelliferae family and it grows on mountain slopes. It is eaten raw and makes an exquisitely refreshing, delightful salad (the most tender part is the white lower stem near the roots).
In the Capcir angelica is picked in mid-June as after that the stem becomes stringier. It has a suave, stimulating and invigorating aroma. It stimulates sweating and has certain therapeutic qualities.
Angelica - and in particular the seeds – can also be used to make a liqueur that goes into Bénédictine.
Capcir potatoes - high altitude potatoes
The Catalan mountains are famous for the quality of their high-altitude potatoes. Whilst various varieties are grown, the undisputed queen is the Mona Lisa. Thanks to its unique flavour and the production methods used certain growers have been granted the right to use the Parc brand (designating a product from the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park). The potatoes are planted in the spring and harvested in autumn when the colder weather is gradually beginning to make itself felt.
Potato-growing is common in the Capcir, and over the past few years it has been a good way for high altitude producers to diversify.
The potatoes do not undergo any anti-germinative treatment or chemical haulm destruction and producers seek to grow them in an environmentally friendly way that is far removed from large-scale industrial farming.
They are harvested and sorted manually or semi-manually in the autumn.
Every year all the primary schools in the Capcir take part in a "festival", as part of a course module about potatoes. The children do various visual and plastic art workshops and prepare an exhibition that goes on display as part of the potato festival.
And then every year after the harvest and the festival, there is the potato market held in Matemale, where other regional produce is also on sale and street events are organised.